Impact of a patient-centered technology on medication errors during pediatric emergency care

Ambul Pediatr. 2008 Sep-Oct;8(5):329-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ambp.2008.06.003. Epub 2008 Jul 21.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the impact of a patient-centered health information technology (HIT) on the error rate for ordering and prescribing of medications during emergency pediatric care.

Methods: We conducted a quasi-experimental intervention study by using control and intervention periods to evaluate the effect on medication ordering and prescribing from a patient-centered HIT designed to enhance communication between parents and emergency clinicians during emergency care. Parent-child dyads presenting to 2 emergency department (ED) sites with complaints of fever, asthma, head trauma, otalgia, and dysuria were eligible. During intervention periods, parents used the HIT to enter data on symptoms and medication-related history; a printout provided recommendations to clinicians. Data on errors/adverse drug events were collected via record reviews and phone interviews with parents. The primary outcome was the number of medication errors in orders or prescriptions for drugs targeted by the HIT.

Results: Of 2002 parent-child dyads screened, 1810 (90%) were eligible, 1411 of 1810 (78%) were enrolled, and 1410 analyzed; 1097 subjects had a total of 2234 orders or prescriptions written. Of these events, 1289 of 2234 (58%) were associated with at least 1 error. Of the 1755 errors discovered, 232 errors were serious and preventable. Among 654 patients exposed to medications targeted by the HIT, the number of errors per 100 patients during control versus intervention periods was not significantly different (173 vs 134 with both sites combined; P = .35.)

Conclusion: The patient-centered HIT demonstrated minimal impact on medication errors during ED care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Emergency Treatment / methods*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Order Entry Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parents
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Probability
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity